I currently teach at the Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship program of the Erasmus University Rotterdam, BA and MA levels.
My drive to teach is two-fold. First, I strongly believe in education as an agent of change, to empower individuals to learn to think critically as well as to find the information and tools to allow them to create the conditions they desire in all areas of life.
Second, it is a pleasure to share my research as well as to jointly discover the world with students during their thesis projects. The area of heritage, particularly linked to digital technology, provides a wide range of topics for study that have not yet been analysed and that continue to change. You can read a summary of some examples from 2018/2019 and 2020.
I support a research lab approach to learning with students, which led to the organisation of a colloquium on the Future of Museums, and the development of a new MA course on Museums in Context. The course is meant as a research lab where we tackle ‘wicked problems’ from a changing selection of museums. The course development was supported by a group of experts in pedagogy and animation, as a series of videos were designed to stimulate group discussion in the classroom. The video series covers the following topics:
- What can be learnt from looking at museums from an economic lens, a science that studies human behaviour around production and consumption, and the incentives that may influence a change in behaviour, with the aim of identifying tendencies that can inform future predictions.
- Value theory, including the elements involved in the process of valuation as well as the Value of museums, which I argue includes the provision of information used in classification and categorization frameworks that serve to enrich the daily processes of valuation.
- Application of value theory beyond market price to museum collections with the example of a “Rebozo.” In this video, the output of the museum is reviewed, which culminates perhaps in an exhibition but includes lots of behind the scenes work, such as research and the transformation of resources to generate additional value.
- The extraordinary great popularity of few museums, few objects, and few artists, known as Superstars, and market characteristics, including having branches and great shops. Small museums can experience a temporary superstardom, building from the natural monopoly of holding unique collections.
- The curious museum visitors, sensitive to quality signals and past experience to influence future visits, what is known as the addictive size of museums. Little is known of digital museum visitors but, I argue, past experience can only suggest great social benefits from online consumption.
- The digital side of museums, as technological adoption to potentially innovate in product, process, organisation, resources, and market. In this video, I propose the museum as institution that can contribute to improve the ‘soft skills’ needed to advance social development.
- The role of governments in the work museums do, the challenge to allocate resources equitably, and the moral desire to increase diversity in collections, perspectives, and access. This video reviews the main economic arguments for direct and indirect government support, as well as other forms of government intervention such as regulation, ownership, and policy.
- Considering the intangible side of museums, this video discusses cultural heritage knowledge as a socially constructed common, because rivalry exists in the allocation of resources to enable its management and care for its preservation. I propose museums create the story of our past by linking stories and objects that belong to us all, in what I refer to as a global cultural and scientific information network.
- A last video presents the museum as part of a cultural system. Generally, visitor numbers are used as measure of success yet these cannot capture the effect or quality of a museum service, including perceived welfare gain. I propose museums can best be evaluated as part of a cultural system. Success of a museum online is similar, it depends on its ability to tap into a wide information network.
All videos include a brief bibliography and list the link to all image references, from museums across the world. The full playlist is available at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication Faculty YouTube channel.
It was my pleasure to follow courses from wonderful people who inspired me to develop my voice and interests, sharing their knowledge and expertise, while challenging my perspectives. I am ever thankful of their questions and very kind disposition, within and beyond the classroom. From John Cotton Dana I became aware of the potential power of education in museums. From Ruth Towse and Mark Blaug I continue to learn about the economics of education as well as the economics of culture. From Paul Ottlet I discovered the Mundaneum. From my students I learn, most of all, to stay fresh, curious, and up to date.
Learning at university level was a marking experience of which I have become more aware of during my teaching at BA and MA levels for over a decade. It is during the BA that a basic epistemological framework is constructed that serves to make sense of the world – for the rest of one’s life, and it is during the MA that a key social network can be constructed.
A new Teaching Cultural Economics book has been published where I was asked to write a chapter about the Digitisation of Museums. The entire book provides a broad perspective from experienced colleagues.